Friday, August 27, 2010

How Many Days Have You Lived?

I was working with a client organization the other day and saw a sign in the machine shop. It was one of those typical signs that state how many days the team had gone without an accident. During my conversation with the shop manager, we discussed the previous day's leadership workshop on aligning Values, Talent, and Vision and how it related to the common safety sign.

People keep track of things that are important. Things like safety. Why then, do we not measure other things that are just as/more important?

For example, the client's safety sign read "123 days without an accident". Why don't we have a sign in our homes that read "18,250 days that I haven't died?" Unfortunately (or fortunately), we can't have a sign with the number of days we have left in life. I'd bet that would be a sign everyone would pay attention to.

Maybe I was wondering about this because I had just gotten news of the unexpected death of a friend's husband. We don't often think of how many days we've been alive - or that those days are numbered...somewhere. Maybe we should. How would that change our results in life?

Imagine instead if we had a sign that measured how many days we really lived! This was the discussion I had with the manager. "What if people were focused on what was truly important to them (Values), and what they were best at doing (Talent) that propelled them forward towards a goal that was compelling and desirable for them (Vision)"? As their leader, his job is to help them make that happen.

That is ALL of our jobs: To identify those things and take action to see that we stay on course. Every day.

Wouldn't it feel GREAT to add a new number each day to your sign "How Many Days I've Really Lived = X"??

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Problem, Challenge, or Opportunity?

Today I heard some people having a heated discussion about whether it was better to refer to a situation as a "problem" or an "opportunity".

What a waste of time.

The REAL issue isn't the terminology - it is the fact that, typically, all they do is talk. That's a common situation that most people/businesses are in today. Here are some practical distinctions I make that I've been told by clients is helpful:

Definition of "Problem" = Anything that is unacceptable to you. The degree of your problem is the degree of unacceptableness. REALLY unacceptable = BIG problem.

Definition of "Challenge" = A problem that you are willing to face/fix.

Both "Problems" and "Challenges" are "Opportunities". The truth is: We have almost unlimited opportunities each and every day. You can choose to have one less soda a day and lose about 15 pounds a year. You can choose to wake up 30 minutes earlier each day and invest that time strategically considering your future. You can choose to take the 5 minutes immediately after reading this blog to call a friend or family member and tell them how much you care about them or to ask forgiveness/forgive them to enhance your relationship.

Every day. Every hour. Every minute is an opportunity.

The question is: "Will you take action"?

Merely talking about definitions of words and other concepts without acting on that discussion to add some kind of value is a complete waste of energy. Calling something a "problem" isn't what creates negativity/defeat. Failing to do anything constructive about the problem is what keeps it a problem - and retains the negative consequences.

Solution? Commit to do more than talk about what needs to improve. Take action to achieve something of substance that means something at the end of the day.

Just a could start with that phone call...

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What To Do When Things Hit The Fan

Interesting how Life can change in an instant, eh?

Family, friends and colleagues members have had major changes occur recently. One has had several challenging health issues with numerous family members. Another has just gotten married for the first time. Still another is struggling to make sense of several professional opportunities.

Whether good news or bad news, massive change can create an overwhelming situation that can cause us to spin our wheels.

What is the key? It's all rolled up into one of my favorite sayings: "Organize or agonize".

Recently, I was working with a client who was struggling with similar issues - not knowing what to do next and being confused by the swirl of activity around them. In times like this, I like to take a step back and remind myself of a few things that keeps me balanced and focused.

KNOW your purpose.
SOW your talents.
GROW your legacy.

Once you've done the hard work to get clear about your purpose in life, it makes it easy to identify what to say "yes" to and what to say "no" to regarding your time/schedule.

Once you're clear about what your unique talents/skills are, you can make better decisions about leveraging your strengths to better establish your niche.

Once you're clear about the difference you ultimately want to make (based on your purpose and your talents), you can target building your legacy in a comprehensive, fully-integrated way - wasting as little effort as possible.

Just a little something to consider when things get crazy - which, in this hectic life, can be more than once a day.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!